In the new reform plan for the Roman Curia – the governing structures of the Catholic Church at the Vatican – evangelization will be at the center of the life and mission of the Church.
The new constitution that incorporates these reforms holds the title in Latin Praedicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel) and is expected to be published in September this year.
As the title of the new document indicates Praedicate Evangelium, Pope Francis wishes to place mission, and not the governing structures, at the heart of the Catholic Church.
The overhaul of the Curia has been in the making for the past six years by the Council of Cardinals who have been advising Pope Francis on how to govern and renew the universal Church.
It has been a long and slow process that included far and wide consultations with experts, bishops, cardinals and various sectors of the Church on how best to reform not only the Roman Curia but also the whole Church.
Using the pretext of Curia reform, Francis set a profound and radical revision of the papacy and the global Church in motion, according to Robert Mickens, editor of the daily La Croix International. “He has done so by re-igniting the vision of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and its still unrealized intention to bring the Church into the modern world,” writes Mickens.
Amongst the novelties contained in Praedicate Evangelium is the creation of a new dicastery for evangelization that will be the first amongst all the dicasteries, followed by the dicastery for charity, thus downgrading the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the most important organism of the structure of the Curia up to now.
“Pope Francis always underlines that the Church is missionary, so it makes sense for us to have put the dicastery of evangelization in first place, and not doctrine of the faith,” explained Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, who presides over the Council of Cardinals that drafted the new constitution.
The Roman Curia will no longer be an organism of power and control but rather an institution at the service of the Pope and bishops. Both the national episcopal conferences and local bishops will be given more authority and independence to decide on domestic issues.
What we are seeing with this new reformation project is a deep transformation of the Church, with evangelization as its main focus and criterion to plan and assess all other activities. The proclamation of the Gospel will be at the heart of the mission of the Catholic Church and the Curia.